“Lack of public awareness of Digital Euro must be tackled” – Chris MacManus MEP

Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP and member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Chris MacManus has said it is unsurprising that ECB funded research has shown very little public awareness of the proposed Digital Euro. He was responding to the ECB publication of a “Study on New Digital Payment Methods” which showed that there is very little public awareness of what the Digital Euro is. The Midlands Northwest MEP said a dedicated public awareness campaign must begin now.

MacManus said:
“It is unsurprising that this research has shown that there is very little public knowledge or understanding of the Digital Euro. The Digital Euro will represent a major new dynamic in how we buy things and interact with the financial system.”

“Among the Irish focus group the report noted that : “Awareness of a digital euro was low among the general public” and that “The general public and the tech-savvy were mostly positive about the idea of a digital euro: their main concerns were the potential fees and charges involved, as well as the loss of cash as a payment option.”

“These concerns are two key points that the ECB and broader EU must tackle if the Digital Euro is to win public support.” MacManus warned. “The technology behind the Digital Euro removes much of the excuses that banks and intermediaries use to charge fees. The ECB should be clear that its aim is to create a system where using the Digital Euro is not just another cost on hard-pressed workers and another profit making scheme for banks.”

“Secondly, as I have raised directly with the ECB, the public do not want a replacement for cash. Cash must be readily available and an option for all. The ECB have said this is their position but they must keep insisting on it to reassure the public.”

“The report also notes that generally once explained to them the public are well disposed to an alternative to cryptocurrencies that has public backing. This is not surprising and should be put up in lights by the promoters of the Digital Euro.”

MacManus highlighted the importance of an all island approach to the Digital Euro in Ireland. “In an Irish context, it is important that the right of people in the north to use and hold Digital Euro is won. I have brought this to the attention of the ECB who are taking this issue seriously.”

He concluded, “Critically, the report also shows that the public and traders simply don’t get the need for the Digital Euro. It is up to the ECB and others pushing the Digital Euro to explain why and how it is different if it wants the public to accept and embrace it. A public awareness campaign should start now.”

HSE’s overdue acknowledgment of overcharging in nursing homes is welcome– Imelda Munster TD

At a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster welcomed confirmation from the HSE that they have written to HIQA instructing them to bring guidelines in relation to the rights of medical card holders to the attention of private nursing home providers.

Having raised the issue in successive meetings and through correspondence with the Department of Health and the HSE as well as other related agencies, Munster said it was welcome that there was finally some limited acknowledgement that an issue existed.

Teachta Munster said:

“The facts of this have always been clear to me – by law, private nursing homes should not be charging patients for items such as incontinence pads, wound dressings, sore creams and medications that residents are entitled to free of charge under their medical cards.

“If they were living in the community these items would be free of charge under their medical card.

“I have been raising this issue for years and have drafted a bill to resolve the matter through legislation.

“In that context, it was particularly frustrating over the past 18-months as various health officials reacted in an oblivious manner when I put it to them directly at the Public Accounts Committee.

“Indeed, responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Acts illustrated officials seemed completely unaware that residents in some private nursing homes were being charged for these items and services they had an entitlement to under the medical card.

“People in nursing homes can be very vulnerable. We have to ensure that those who are tasked with looking after them are not over-charging them or taking advantage of them. We need to see a stop put to these disgraceful practices.

“I don’t believe that today’s memorandum will see this practice entirely come to an end – but it should serve at least to somewhat discourage those actors who may be tempted to engage in the practice,and put those actively engaged in this on notice.

“I will certainly continue to press at every opportunity for strengthened legislation that would actively prevent every single private nursing home from doing so.”

Government and HSE cannot continue to break the law by denying the rights of children with disabilities – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has called on the government and HSE to stop breaking the law, stop cutting corners, and provide children with disabilities with the services they need.

Sinn Féin introduced a Dáil motion calling on government to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are fully protected, that they fulfil their obligations under the Disability Act in full, and that the Optional Protocol on the UNCRPD is implemented.

Teachta Munster said:

“The High Court has ruled that the HSE’s assessment of need process is operating outside of the law and is denying children with disabilities their right, as set down in the Disability Act, to a proper assessment of need within six months.

“As has been constantly raised by Sinn Féin, this procedure was introduced in 2020 in bad faith as a mechanism for the government to avoid its legal obligations.

“They have now been found out.

“The judgement was a damning indictment of government policy and their abject failure to appropriately resource Children’s Disability Services.

“It reflects the widespread personal testimonies of parents and disability organisations who have shared their harrowing and exhausting experiences with Sinn Féin TDs.

“We will continue to stand up for these children and their parents, and we will ensure that their voices are heard.

“Earlier this month, the government accepted our motion on assessment of need, which pointed out consistent breaches of the law. They also accepted the High Court ruling.

“Of late, government has been accepting motions, or not opposing them, purely for fear of public backlash. But the reality is that they never act on them.

“But what we need to see now is action. The Minister must commit to providing the funding and resources necessary to ensure children get the services they need in a timely manner.

“Sinn Féin’s motion calls on government to implement the optional protocol on the UNCRPD, and to commit that any review of the Disability Act will not be used to undermine the current rights of people with disabilities.

“We are also calling for an immediate upgrade of the relevant IT systems and databases to accurately maintain and report on the data required under the Disability Act 2005.

“They must also develop and implement a strategy to recruit and retain the staff needed to deliver services, including reviewing the current critical skills list and providing a job guarantee to health and social care graduates.

“We also believe that full reports before the Houses of the Oireachtas before the summer recess are necessary. These must detail in full how government will meet its legal obligations under the Disability Act and resource Children’s Disability Services.

“The government must live up to its legal obligations and provide children with disabilities with the services they need.”

Every Effort Must Be Made To Assist Undocumented Irish in United States – MacManus

Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for every effort to be made to assist the undocumented Irish in the United States through effective immigration reform. The Midlands Northwest representative reasons that the undocumented Irish have contributed positively to American society and should be allowed to travel between Ireland and the US. 

MacManus recently met with Cllr Michael McMahon, a campaigner for the undocumented Irish in America who has first-hand family experience regarding the issue.

MEP MacManus said:
“Since its inception the United States has offered hope and succour to generations of Irish people fleeing from poverty, famine and repression. Many of them have made considerable contributions to their adopted country.”

“The undocumented Irish contribute positively to American society and all they want to do is live a full life paying their taxes, and be able to travel between Ireland and the US without fear of losing their jobs.”
“Their undocumented status means that when faced with a family crisis, like a bereavement, or a more joyous family occasion like a christening or a wedding, they are not able to travel home without fear of being unable to return.”

“As a result the undocumented Irish feel isolated, forgotten and left behind. Most of them have not been able to come home for over 20 years.”

“As one who is deeply proud of his Irish roots, and who himself is a descendant of Irish emigrants to America, there is hope that President Biden would look favourably on the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States.”

“I believe that we can look forward with more optimism than we have felt for quite some time. It is essential that every effort is made as time is ticking on for many of the undocumented and we need urgency to address this issue.”

Clarity needed on proposed East Meath Primary Care Centre – Imelda Munster

The need for clarity on the proposed East Meath Primary Care Centre in Bettystown has been raised by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster.

Deputy Munster received information this week from the HSE in response to parliamentary questions she put on the matter seeking information on the timeline of the project, and whether the new centre will increase the number of GPs in East Meath which is currently experiencing a severe shortage of GP places.

The responses outlined that works on the Primary Care Centre will begin in Q1 of 2022 and the centre is expected to be open in Q4 of 2022. In their responses the HSE did not clarify whether the Primary Care Centre would offer services in addition to those already in East Meath, or whether existing services will merely be moved there. It merely stipulated that two GP practices would be accommodated in the new unit.

Deputy Munster said:

“We have a serious shortage of GPs in East Meath. Tens of thousands of people have moved to the area in the past decade, yet the infrastructure hasn’t been improved to accommodate them.

“Every week in my constituency clinic I hear from constituents who are in the farcical and unacceptable situation of having to travel to Dublin or further afield to receive GP care as there are no places available in local practices.

“I am going to chase this matter up with the HSE as it’s a vital point – if the Primary Care Centre doesn’t increase the number of GPs working in the area, what purpose does it really serve?

“The other issue here is the length of time it will take to become operational. The unit is already there, but it has to be kitted out as a doctor’s surgery. I don’t quite understand how that will take the best part of a year to achieve, especially given the lengthy delays to date with the project.

“I’m going to put these questions to the HSE again, and I expect that this time around I get full answers to the questions put.

“Having to travel outside of your town, and outside of your county or province even for basic medical care is a scandal. We need the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible, and we need it be sure that it will provide additional GP capacity in the East Meath area.”